THE CHINESE CHARACTER 67.
jobs. The Nanking ministers neither defied the Nanking order
nor petitioned for its repeal on honest grounds of inconvenience
and impracticability. No professional clerk could be clever
enough to draft any such petition and make it accord with
good form, since it meant the desire of Chinese officials to
reside in foreign settlements, which would be unpatriotic.
They did an infinitely cleverer thing by changing the door-
plates of their Shanghai offices and calling them trade in-
spection bureaux. The door-plates probably cost twenty
dollars apiece, no man was thrown out of a job, and no "face"
was lost. The school trick pleased not only the Nanking
ministers but also Nanking itself, where the original order was
issued. Our Nanking ministers are great humorists. So are
our bandits. So are our war-lords. The humour of Chinese
civil wars has already been pointed out.
In contrast with this, we might take the case of mission
schools as showing the Western lack of humour. The missions
were put into a scare a few years ago when their registration
was required, which involved the crossing out of religious
instruction from the school curricula, the hanging of Sun
Yatsen's picture in the assembly hall, and the holding of
Monday memorial meetings. The Chinese authorities could
not see why the mission schools could not comply with these
simple regulations, while the missionaries could not see their
way clear to accepting them, and there was a deadlock. Some
missionaries actually had visions of closing up their schools,
and in one instance, everything would have gone on smoothly
except for the stupid honesty of the Western principal who
refused to cancel one sentence from their school catalogue
avowing religious instruction to be one of their aims. The
principal wanted to be able to say honestly and openly that
religious instruction was indeed the principal aim of their
institution, and to this day that school is not registered. There
was absolutely no lightness of touch. What this mission school
should have done was to imitate the example of the Nanking
ministers, comply with every official regulation, hang a picture
of Sun Yatsen—and proceed d la chinoise as regards the rest.
But I cannot help thinking that a school tun with such stupid
honesty must be an honest-to-goodness school.